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Cutting Edge / Drug Discovery & Development Agenda
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November 12, 2019  l  8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

The Drug Discovery Symposium will feature presentations from on the latest trends, new developments, and information critical to the success of the drug discovery community. Below is the final agenda.




If you're looking for more great drug discovery content, be sure to check out the half-day Drug Development Workshop on November 11th.

8:00 - 9:00 AM Registration and Networking Breakfast
9:00 - 9:10 AM

Welcome and Opening Remarks


Britany Affolter-Caine, PhD

Executive Director,

University Research Corridor


James Dalton, PhD,

Dean and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences,

University of Michigan

9:10- 10:20 AM

Session 1: Early Stage Drug Discovery and Development at Michigan's Research Institutions

Hear the latest in exciting drug discovery efforts ongoing at the academic research institutions - the underlying science, technologies and development approaches being taken to develop novel therapeutic candidates

  • Karen Liby, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University
  • Daniel Rapollee, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University
  • Nouri Neamati John G. Searle Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Michigan
  • Kyungmin Ji, PhD, Research Scientist, Department of Pharmacology, Wayne State University

Moderator: Edmund Ellsworth, PhD

Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology,

Michigan State University

10:20 - 10:40 AM Networking Break and Poster Viewing
10:40- 11:40 AM 

Session 2: Moving Forward: Tales of Clinical Development

Universities are pushing their novel therapeutic candidates into clinical trials. Such an evolution in academic drug discovery is underway in numerous centers amid a government-supported push for more “translational” research that converts basic science into products, improves the chances that a promising molecule reaches patients, and gets the attention of the pharmaceutical industry. Hear case studies of therapies in clinical development.

  • Andre S. Bachmann, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair for Pediatric Research, Michigan State University
  • Daniel Rogers, MBA, CCRC Clinical Research Manager, Van Andel Institute
  • Shaomeng Wang, PhD Warner-Lambert/Parke -Davis Professor in Medicine; Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry, Cancer Drug Discovery Program, University of Michigan

Moderator: Robert Garces, PhD, MBA

Business Development Manager,

Van Andel Institute

11: 40 - 12:30 AM

Session 3: Commercializing Drug Discovery in Michigan

Drug discovery and development is alive and well in the state. Technologies and drug leads have been licensed out of universities to companies that have embarked on commercialization. Get a flavor for what novel programs and drug candidates are being developed across the spectrum of pre-clinical and clinical stages.

  • Stephen Benoit, MBA President and CEO, MDI Therapeutics
  • Chad Coberly, JD, Executive Vice President, Clinical, Regulatory & Legal Affairs, Tetra Therapeutics
  • Sham Nikam, PhD President and CEO, ARTham Therapeutics

Moderator: Elke Lipka, PhD


TSRL, Inc.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


1:30 - 2:30 PM

Choose Either Session 4 or Session 5:

Session 4: Computational and Decision Support Technologies

To identify promising drugs – and avoid failures – researchers are using machine learning, data mining and other computational methods to support their discovery and development efforts. Hear about the technologies and products some Michigan-based companies offer to the biopharmaceutical research world.

  • Sorin Draghici, PhD, CEO, Advaita Bioinformatics
  • Mark Kiel, MD, PhD, CSO and VP of Product Strategy, Genomenon
  • Joseph Burnett, PhD, Co-Founder, Collective Scientific

Moderator: George Corcoran, PhD

Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Services,

Wayne State University


Session 5: Drug Discovery - Beyond Human Therapeutics

Drug discovery isn’t just about developing treatments for human diseases and conditions. Michigan companies large and small are designing, testing and developing new chemical and biologic entities for animal health, biodefense and agricultural/environmental applications.

  • Andrea Gonzales, PhD, Senior Research Director, Zoetis
  • Robert Kennedy, PhD, CSO, Vestaron
  • Debra Kimless, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Pure Green

Moderator: Ray Mattingly, PhD

Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology,

Wayne State University

2:30 - 3:20 PM

Choose Either Panel Discussion A or B

Panel A: Changing Landscape of Clinical Drug Development

The development of innovative medicines has evolved dramatically over the past decade. As advances in science, technology and data gradually find application within clinical development, the length of time trials take to complete, the resources required due to trial complexity, and likelihood of trial success are all shifting, with impacts varying by therapeutic area.

  • Dolly Niles, MBA Executive Director, Quest Research Institute
  • Sharon Watling, Pharm D, Watling Clinical Development
  • Therese Heinonen, D.V.M, VP Clinical Operations, DalCor Pharmaceuticals
  • Ali Vazquez, Founder, Clyn Project Consulting

Moderator: Jean Rowan, MD, MS,  Assistant Professor and Program Director, Clinical Research

Administration, Eastern Michigan University


Panel B: Importance of CROs/CDMO's in Supporting the Drug Discovery Model

The role of contract research, development and manufacturing organizations (CROs and CDMOs) in helping pharma and biopharma firms address today’s complex drug development challenges, has grown considerably these past few years. Learn how to identify the right contract organization to meet your needs, work with them to ensure successful outcomes and what resources are available right here close to home.

  • Joe Cornicelli, PhD Senior Director, In Vivo Pharmacology, Charles River Laboratories
  • Bruce Markham, PhD, Diapin Therapeutics
  • Peter Toogood, PhD, Senior Vice President of Chemistry, Lycera
  • Don Zinn, Chief Business Officer, SciTech Development

Moderator: James Mobley, PhD, Co-Owner, PTImmune, LLC

3:20 - 3:40 PM

Networking Break and Poster Viewing

3:40 - 4:30 PM

Keynote Address: Accelerating Academic Drug Discovery in NYC: A New Paradigm for Translational Innovation


Introduction: Richard Neubig, MD, PhD,

Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology,

Michigan State University


Keynote Speaker: Peter Meinke, PhD,

Sanders Director,

Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute

4:30 - 5:20 PM

Panel C: Collaboration, Partnerships, and Philanthropy

Michigan is fortunate to have a strong ecosystem of drug development, business formation, entrepreneurship and philanthropic resources. Opportunities exist to enhance interactions between those stakeholder groups and better support investigators and nascent therapeutic start-ups, bridge the bio-industry and academic enterprises, and drive research and economy.

  • YooRi Kim, MS, Scientific Officer, Gilbert Family Foundation
  • Joseph Menetski, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research Partnerships, National Institutes of Health Foundation
  • Sam O'Connor, MBA Executive Director and Head, Operations and Portfolio Management, Center for Therapeutics Innovation, Pfizer
  • Kelly Sexton, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research - Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships, University of Michigan 

Moderator: Andy Alt, PhD,

Director, Center for Chemical Genomics,

University of Michigan

5:20 - 5:30 PM

Closing Remarks


Stephen Rapundalo, PhD,

President and CEO,


5:30 - 7:00 PM Networking Reception and Poster Viewing
Creating Value
by delivering business-critical resources & bottom line savings
Building Networks
by connecting Michigan's bio-industry one member at a time
Growing Talent
by creating opportunities that develop people & build organizations
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